Will a detailed Cross-Country Racing Game ever be possible?

On the news of Juiced and Stuntman franchises’ cancellation, Jeff Gerstmann posed this question on his blog:

Now, for years now, I’ve been wondering if someone will ever be able to make a Cross-Country racing game. And yesterday on N’Gai Croal’s Level Up Blog, he posted this game design idea:

He goes on to his “Midnight Express” cross country racing game idea, which I’d suggest you read by following the link. It’s an amusing notion. But here was his suggestion on combining the talent at EA to create the game:

While a great pie-in-the-sky idea, I was personally wondering if a Cross-Country racing game was even a practical idea anymore. About a decade ago, with Flight Simulator modeling more and more cities in its games, I was thinking the idea would continue to be more and more achievable, but with today’s games requiring so much work and so much detail, even doing a Flight Simulator-like model where you have certain detailed big cities and lots of rolling country-side seems less and less likely. Just doing a few cities takes companies like Bizarre studios years. And with games getting even more detailed, maybe the idea becomes even less viable instead of more viable as the amount of detail in games keeps going up.

But hey, maybe it is possible. Test Drive Unlimited was a game in this generation. And they managed to model the big island in Hawaii. It’s a huge leap from there to a Cross-country game where you can go from New York to LA though.

Must be all about the middleware. When someone does DirectCity, you’ll be good to go.

Cannonball Run the game! I’d love for something like this to come out. Test Drive Unlimited really changed the way I view racing games. Having a huge setting with varied racing environments and seamless online was just amazing.

Things like this give me hope:

They imported a model of the city of London into the Crysis Sandbox editor. A really detailed model from the looks of things. Obviously, it’s just models, and none of the buildings have textures on them, and that’s a still a lot of work. But it’ll get you a lot closer.

If people can use existing models and data from Google Earth and satellite imaging data to one day easily model large areas in great detail, a cross-country game would become much more viable.

So, uh, do you have to play for 30 hours continuously?

  • Alan

Desert Bus isn’t good enough for you?

It’s definitely possible, thought not exactly plausible. However, the chances improve every day. With things like google earth, the data is just there waiting to be mined, extracted, and implemented.

The biggest problem would be cities themselves. But highways and such? Easy, most likely.

If you were willing to accept abstracted or ‘fake’ cities with accurate road layouts, then it’s definitely doable.

Biggest problem would be the data management, IMO.

It sounds boring as hell. Did you read the Wired article on Alex Roy’s new cross-country driving speed record? He had to abort and start over repeatedly. Then, 30ish hours of team driving complete with cell phone and GPS gameplay.

It’s been done 22 years ago (and I used to enjoy it too). They just need to upgrade the graphics a bit. :)


Man, have you never been on a long highway drive and just wished you could know what it was like to burn down the road at 250km/h instead of standard highway speeds?

There’s many a stretch of highway that I’d just love to do in a racing situation. Hell, there are ‘courses’ near my hometown that friends and I made up for rally race tracks. It would kick ass to be able to do them in a simulation situation.

Crusin’ USA did it a little more recently with a slight graphical upgrade.

So I was bored, and I went and mapped out the route.



Cross Crountry Racing the MMO :-)

30 man runs from NY to CA every weekend!

I would play this in a heartbeat if it included an ambulance and Captain Chaos.

Seriously, I would love a driving game that tried to simulate open racing on public highways. Just a 50 mile stretch of the 101 around Oregon or the coastal highway by Monterey would be fine by me.

That kind of simulation would be no fun at all. You’d wrap your car around a telephone pole or collide head-on with a school bus every 2 minutes.

Are you kidding? It would be even better if you could speed down highways while hearing the voiceover of Sheriff John Bunnell (Ret.) soberly intoning, “This hopped-up madman shows so little regard to human life, he BLOWS right by this school bus full of kids. But the law, and the law of averages, catches up. And he goes down. HARD.”

Then it ends in two ways:
“This low-life made a bet that he could outrun California’s finest, but he paid for that bet… WITH HIS LIFE!”
“This moron thought he’d have some fun taking a joyride in a stolen car. Now this punk is having all the joyrides he can take… IN JAIL!”